The Taliban's bloody foothold in
Pakistan By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - By taking control of virtually
all of Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area on
the border with Afghanistan, the Taliban have
gained a significant base from which to wage their
resistance against US-led forces in Afghanistan.
At the same time, the development solidifies the
anti-US resistance groups in Iraq, Iran and
Afghanistan, which will now fight under a single
The Taliban recently declared
the establishment of an "Islamic state" in North
Waziristan, and they now, through the brutal
elimination of the criminal
elements who previously held sway, in effect rule
in the rugged territory.
tribal area, North Waziristan has always enjoyed
independence from Islamabad, and even on the
occasions when the Pakistani army has ventured
into the area to root out foreign fighters or
Afghan resistance figures, it has received fierce
opposition, and in effect been forced to back off.
Taliban and their supporters plant
roadside bombs on the routes used by the Pakistani
paramilitary forces, and virtually every day one
or two vehicles are blown up. This measure is
aimed to keep the security forces away from the
actual tribal areas of Waziristan. In short, the
writ of the Pakistani political agent (the central
government's representative) barely extends beyond
Miramshah Bazaar and Wana Bazaar (the official
headquarters). Everywhere else, the Taliban are
calling the shots.
Asia Times Online has viewed
a video disc released by the
illustrates their control in North Waziristan. The
footage includes their bases, where thousands of
youths are present, preparations for an attack
into Afghanistan, and shots of criminals executed
at a public rally staged by the Taliban.
The government of Pakistan has termed the
The video opens with
pictures of the headless bodies of criminals
strung up in Miramshah Bazaar, executed by the
next segment showcases the establishment of strong
bases in which thousands of turban-clad youths can
be seen with guns. Commanders scan the ranks and
select a squad to launch a
guerrilla attack on a US base in Khost
province in Afghanistan. They put on headbands
with the wording "There is no God but the one God;
Mohammed is the messenger of God."
fighters emerge from their base at night and head
for Khost. After a 30-minute battle, flames can be
seen rising from within the US base. The squad
returns before dawn.
The video also includes the
"official" announcement of the establishment of an
Islamic state in Waziristan (which includes
the tribal area of South
Waziristan) and a declaration of the Taliban's
rule in North Waziristan.
confirms an Asia Times Online article describing
how al-Qaeda and its allies - in this case the
Taliban - would establish bases from which to
coordinate and strengthen its global war against
the United States (Al-Qaeda goes back to base,
November 4, 2005).
announcement of an Islamic state is interpreted as
Taliban's summer offensive, precisely at a time
when Iran's nuclear dossier will be submitted to
the United Nations Security Council, and both
Europe and the US will be mounting pressure on
Tehran to abandon its nuclear program.
US and Iran being at loggerheads sits very well
with al-Qaeda's plans to establish bases and a
unified command system of anti-US resistance from
Iraq to Afghanistan. Iran is at present the only
missing link in this strategy.
Despite little love being
lost between the Taliban and Iran, al-
Qaeda's Egyptian camp has retained its
traditional decades-old ties with the Iranian
regime. The real ideologue of the Iranian
revolution of 1979 was Dr Ali Shariati, who was
inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood's Syed Qutub.
Similarly, the Islamic Jihad of Palestine
officially claims its inspiration from the Shi'ite
Iranian revolution, despite being a completely
Sunni Islamic group.
Al-Qaeda's link with
Iran, although at a very low level, could prove
critical in the coming months. Should Iran find
itself sanctioned, or even attacked by the US, few
states would dare to support Tehran.
Al-Qaeda, however, would seize the
opportunity, asking in return that it be given its
desperately needed corridor through Iran to link
Afghanistan and Pakistan with Iraq and the Arab
A silent revolution The
Taliban video disc, which is a mixture of Pashtu
and Urdu, maintained that criminals had been
calling the shots in North
routinely abducted children and sodomized them,
and they charged protection money from
shopkeepers, from transport operators, and even
for marriage ceremonies. The gangs were headed by
an Afghan, Hakeem Khan Zadran. They had various
sanctuaries where drugs, women and alcohol were
The government, too, was
claimed to have paid the criminals so that they
would not interfere with official business.
a turning point came last December. A group of
Taliban fighters were heading to Khost to launch
an operation in Afghanistan when they were stopped
by some criminals demanding money for safe
passage. The Taliban refused, and were allowed to
pass. However, a few kilometers further down the
road the criminals fired a rocket and blew up the
vehicle. Four Taliban belonging to the Wazir tribe
The incident outraged local
supporters of the Taliban, who converged near
Miramshah and warned people to leave their homes
if they lived near criminals. A raid was then
conducted on one criminal sanctuary. In a fierce
15-minute gun battle, several gangsters were
killed, some were seized and many fled.
Over the next three days, according to the
video, the Taliban smoked out numerous criminals
from their hideouts all over North Waziristan.
Many were executed at mass rallies in Miramshah
The Taliban movement In
a similar manner, the Taliban emerged as a
reformist movement against criminals and warlords
in Zabul and Kandahar in Afghanistan about 16
The Taliban have shown their
muscles so powerfully in North Waziristan that
Pakistani forces have just stepped away. It has
now become a popular movement with the complete
support of local tribes.
The Taliban have
attracted thousands of foot soldiers from all
over, including Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis,
Afghans, Uzbeks and local tribals. North
Waziristan is now their "Islamic state" and base
from which to launch a summer offensive in
According to Asia Times
Online investigations, more than 100 suicide
squads have been lined up for the summer assault.
These squads have precise targets all over
Afghanistan. The Taliban leadership is also
encouraged by the strong representation of
Islamists in the new Afghan parliament as
The Taliban have
already disseminated warnings to all the governors
in the south and southeast of Afghanistan not to
mobilize forces in search of the Taliban - or else
they will face the music in the form of suicide
attacks. (On Tuesday in the southern city of
Kandahar, a suicide bomber attacked a guard post
outside the police headquarters, killing 13 people
and wounding 11.)
Local Taliban commanders
such as Mullah Dadullah are already in the field
to sway Afghan tribes in the Pashtun heartlands of
Afghanistan to be prepared for the offensive.
Contacts in the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan
- a major resistance group - in Kabul maintain
that the long absence of commander Kashmir Khan
had led many to believe that he had been arrested
by US forces. However, he recently emerged from
hiding and has become the main engine of the
resistance in the Kunar Valley, where he is
cultivating local tribes for support.
this military strategy is implemented it would
have serious consequences for the allied forces in
Afghanistan, especially at a time when they are
mounting pressure on Iran," commented an
intelligence analyst. "However, the Taliban made
tall claims about winter suicide attacks, but
barring a few events they failed to inflict major
losses on allied forces."
That was before
the Taliban secured a base in North Waziristan,
though. This time around could see a very
resistance route from southern to southeastern
Shahzad is Bureau Chief, Pakistan Asia Times
Online. He can be reached at [email protected].
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